What a Sport
Sitting here tapping away on a beautiful April day I couldn’t help thinking about poor Lorna Brooke. An amateur in the true sense of the word her life was cruelly cut short at the age of 37 in a fall at Taunton. When you see a fall in a race it’s all too easy to either breathe a sigh of relief, that it wasn’t your horse, or curse that it was your selection. Apart from a mention from a commentator about the incident its easy to move on as events unfold and forget all about the poor jockey or horse lying stricken on the floor. Most times they dust themselves down and are ready to fight another day perhaps, or in the rider’s case, in another half hour. Occasionally as in Lorna’s case it’s the other extreme and it brings home what a dangerous sport this is that we love to be involved in. She died as she lived “living the dream” …. R I P Lorna.
Another amateur “living the dream” this weekend is Mr John Dixon from Thursby near Carlisle who rides Captain Zebo in the Grade 2 bet365 Select Hurdle at Sandown Park on Saturday. Unbeaten since joining the Dixons the ex Gigginstown gelding’s rating has risen to 146 from 114, obviously the Cumbrian air is to his liking. Mr Dixon was unable to ride at the Cheltenham due to the Covid 19 restrictions so they decided to wait to give their charge a crack at the big time. Lets hope they both have good spin on Saturday and return home to Cumbia safe and sound.
If you have been betting for a number of years you tend to think you have seen every variation of disaster. First fence fallers, last fence fallers, left at the start, beaten a nose, I’ve had fallers on the flat and a few variations on leading at the last and doing funny things on the run in. I had to have a shake of the head when my latest next big thing in the jockey’s world Benoit de la Sayette was suspended by the BHA after a positive cocaine test. Hopefully, he gets his head down during the inevitable suspension and comes back stronger and wiser. No doubt about it he has the talent to go far. In the hope I don’t blight this next lad’s career as well there is a young lad in Ireland worth keeping on your side, Sam Ewing. Only 17 but another pony racing graduate he one to keep onside in the big Irish Handicaps.
Talking of Ireland, the Punchestown Festival start next week and has some cracking contests. If you haven’t been racing at the track its one to have on your short list when travel restrictions are lifted. It’s a great sight watching them roll on down the far side winging the fences before heading back up towards the straight. The banks races are also a good watch, but a lot of the
action is a fair way from the stands. Let’s hope next year we can get over there and sample the Guinness.
The end of the jumps over here on Saturday, as I write it looks like Harry Skelton is about to be crowned leading jockey. All credit to Harry for riding north of 150 winners considering not so long ago he was down to seven winners in one season and wondering if it was all worth the effort. His resurgence coincided with his brother Dan’s rise through the training ranks, and they could be a formidable duo for some years to come.
Selection 3:40 Sandown: bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase
The Bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase, the old Whitbread to those of a certain vintage, is the centrepiece and as usual has attracted a competitive field. Plan of Attack for the team of the moment Henry de Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore looks like going off favourite and must go close. However, he fell last time out so I will pass him over. Way back in November I had a few quid on Kitty’s Light in the Badger Beer at Wincanton when he was a fast finishing third to El Presente after being badly hampered three out…. see earlier comments about unlucky losers….and running on strongly when too late. He reopposes on 2lbs worse terms which is neither here nor there, but I am sure the faster ground will be right up Christian Williams’ gelding’s street. He is not much of a price at around 5/1 but he is worth a few quid to finish the season on a winning note.
1. Kitty’s Light
Selection: 4:50 Sandown: bet365 Josh Gifford Novices’ Handicap Chase
Our last attempt at a winner for the jumps season is in the bet365 Josh Gifford Novices Handicap over 2m 4f. Sentiment would sway me towards Nick Gifford’s Belargus to win the race named in honour of his late father, but I think the horse might need softer ground a comment which should also apply to Venetia Williams’ Farinet. Having backed this lad when he won over course and distance last time, I can’t believe his shrewd trainer would run him on unsuitable ground, so at around 5/1 I think he is not bad value.
I can’t help ending where I started and consider the difference in attitude between the Lorna Brookes of the sporting world and the sheer brazen opportunism of the clubs trying to get the European Super League off the ground. I know which sport I would rather be interested in.
That’s it then for the jumps season sorry about the losers but it’s all part of the fun …ok maybe not. I will pop my head round the door on the occasional flat weekend to show I can do just as badly in that discipline.
Have a good weekend.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.